Local conglomerate TDG (Transnational Diversified Group) and Japanese shipping firm NYL Lines have revealed that they pilot-testing a mobile app called MarCoPay that will allow seafarers to make e-money transactions aboard their ships.
The e-money platform, which is expected to be launched in January 2020, allows seafarers to receive and send e-money instead of getting cash onboard.
TDG and NYK Lines said MarCoPay will cater the specific needs of seafarers and was developed to address the unique requirements of seafaring, particularly with regard to remote connectivity.
MarCoPay, which took its name from “Maritime Community”, will utilize QR codes that can be used for completing pre-boarding procedures, receiving and converting salaries into digital currency, spending this e-money for onboard purchases, and sending money to their families.
TDG has been partnered with NYK since 1976, recruiting and supplying seafarers for the international shipping line that has been running since 1885.
The seafarers are servicing a fleet of about 710 ships internationally, which includes container ships, tankers, bulk and woodchip carriers, Ro-Ro car carriers, reefer vessels, LNG carriers, and cruise ships.
“We want to make things easier for seafarers, who have been the lifeblood of our business for so long. They spend most of their time at sea, and they are constantly faced with homesickness and worry from being away from their families and friends,” said MarCoPay president and CEO Toshiaki Fujioka. “We want them to be able to buy food and essentials away from home without having to be so concerned about cash.”
MarCoPay is set to service a global market of over 1.6 million seafarers, of which roughly 20 percent are Filipinos, according to a 2017 International Maritime Organization study.
Research firm MarketLine sees the shipping industry growing to a $210-billion valuation by 2021.
“In the NYK line alone, we have 4,241 Filipinos servicing 217 vessels. Seafaring is a very noble profession, and our seafarers are often faced with the hard choice to leave their families behind just to give them a better life,” said MarCoPay COO Areson Cuevas. “MarCoPay provides our seafarers with a tool that can give them an easier, better life.”
TDG and NYK are also planning to introduce value-added features anchored on its digital currency in the near future, such as enabling digital purchases in ordinary stores and giving out discount coupons.